In the world of Michelin stars, San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings and other numerous barometers through which we judge a restaurant’s worth, it has been pointed out how a lot of female chefs are left out from the spotlight. When looking at the Chef’s Table series from Netflix, the female chefs are still outnumbered by their male peers by a significant margin. New York City is certainly no exception; although you have chefs like April Bloomfield (of the Spotted Pig fame) or Amanda Cohen (from the vegetarian Dirt Candy), you tend to hear more often about Mario Batali, Andrew Carmellini, Michael White or the Torrisi / Carbone duos. So when I heard a trio of female chefs and restaurant manager who previously worked in London decided to open a new bistro in West Village, I was very intrigued. Could King be that trend-setting establishment that can show the female chefs can make magic happen on the table just as well as their male counterparts? I had a pleasant meal on a recent visit before Thanksgiving weekend started, but felt there were some misses too.
The concise, daily changing menu at King has French and Northern Italian accent to it. I was certainly wowed by the two appetizers that my girlfriend and I had ordered. Thinly shaved rose veal was absolutely spot on with artichokes, capers and parsley; the seasoning was minimal and the freshness of ingredients was evident too. Ceci e cicoria (a pile of chickpeas) with olive oil was also quite nice, with aromatic flavor of chickpeas that my girlfriend couldn’t stop raving about. After the excellent appetizers, though, there were some hits and misses. I felt that the kitchen was doing a great job with sourcing fresh ingredients and maintaining optimal level of texture throughout, but seasoning and execution became slight issues.
I liked how the monkfish was roasted but the pile of broth underneath felt slightly excessive as the fish quickly became disintegrated (I could’ve honestly had a lot better dish without the broth). The onglet (hanger steak) was similarly expertly cooked for juicy, tender texture, and worked nicely with soft polenta and spinach but the seasoning was uneven (I frankly wished they had just ditched salt altogether to give maximum textural effect to the meat). The biggest disappointment of the night was in chocolate tart with crème fraiche that the server highly recommended; as a semi-expert in everything chocolate, my girlfriend remarked how this tart compensated for lack of cacao with a bit too generous addition of sugar, and I agree that it was forgettable.
King has been one of the hottest tickets in the city since its opening that created a lot of buzz, so I would definitely recommend booking as early as possible. The dining space has the intimate, trendy feel to it typical of a West Village bistro. There is full bar with French- and Italian-centric wine selections. Despite my mixed experiences, I do want to give King a benefit of the doubt and think it is worth a visit if you want to have a satisfying dinner in the neighborhood. Perhaps my expectations were too high when I stepped into the restaurant, but I do feel like the kitchen has a singular focus on creating satisfying meals out of fresh ingredients without too much fussiness, and a lot of potential over time to fix any glitches in its execution and really blossom into a great dining destination in West Village. I would certainly be happy to come back after several months to see how the food at King evolves over time.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 18 King Street, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (917) 825-1618